Dashavatar: Stories of Lord Vishnu By Piyusha Vir

Do mythological tales still hold relevance in today’s hyper-connected world? Can they be retold in a way to attract the global-culture-enveloping-next-Gen?

Dashavatar: Stories of Lord Vishnu by Piyusha Vir is an excellent step towards that end. The book starts earnestly, grows on you steadily and by the time it is the turn of Maryada Purushottam Ram, it becomes a compelling read. Of all the tales, Ramavatar is my favorite rendition. I find it more special because I don’t particularly carry a torch for Ram who is revered across. Piyusha brings out the stoic love between Ram and Sita with utter sensitivity. The next fave would be the Buddha.

The book’s progression mirrors the evolution of mankind. The author’s belief-systems vis-à-vis feminism, work-ethics, orthodoxy are adroitly woven into the narrative without jarring the storyline, mark of an author. The language is lucid and contemporary, the writing style is very fluid and utterly effortless.

Piyusha Vir shared her thoughts with AkkaAcerbic

Please share something about yourself. Your professional and personal life. What are the other things apart from writing, that you do?

Apart from writing and reading, I take up freelance teaching assignments. I am a CELTA-certified English Language Trainer and IELTS Coach. The flexibility of freelance projects allows me to stay away from the monotony of a 9-5 job and gives me the freedom to work on my writing too.

What inspired you to start writing Dashavatar? What is the story behind starting?

I have always been fascinated by mythology. But somewhere down the line, I had grown distant from this love. It was rekindled with reading another Readomania book – Mallar Chatterjee’s Yudhisthira—The Unfallen Pandava and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Palace of Illusions and then it further spilled over to other mythological stories as well.

Many of the characters, especially the Rama avatar or the Krishna avatar, came about for a certain purpose. Their lives and stories are chronicled in Ramayana and Mahabharata, respectively, but I wanted to go even deeper and understand why they came to exist at all. That was what fuelled my interest in the ten avatars. 

However, my attempt at writing these stories isn’t just to share that wisdom. It is to make mythology more believable and relevant to the world that we live in today.

Why should anyone read your book, Dashavatar?

I feel there is a lot of wisdom and knowledge in our Mythology that is waiting to be tapped. With the epics, like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, each one of us is already familiar with the common narrative. But these epics don’t exist in isolation. Most of our mythological stories are so strongly interwoven and inter-dependent on one another that they seem part of an intricate jigsaw puzzle.

Dashavatar is an interesting collection of short stories on the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. The stories are not just a simple retelling of what we already know. It is, in fact, relooking at the stories of the ten avatars and understanding their relevance with who and what we are today. 

How do these stories fit in our current social and political context? What are the learnings we can imbibe from them in our present-day world? And how do they link to the Charles Darwin theory of evolution?

But it is not just the answers to these questions that readers will arrive at. They will also be entertained as each of these stories contain interesting events, believable characters and are relatable and authentic. They may be stories that have been heard time and again, and yet each story will offer the readers something new.

Everyone is writing, wanting to become an author, so how does a reader differentiate between good and bad? 

I feel every writer should work towards improving their craft. So that when a book comes out, it doesn’t let a reader down. Not every writer wants to be an author, and not every author is a good writer. A reader can easily differentiate between a good or a bad book by following their instinct when picking up a book. If they feel that a certain book is worth their time and money, then they should certainly invest in it.

I sincerely believe that readers will find Dashavatar not just worthy of their investment but also exceed their expectations. 

Writing a book…tell us all the good and the bad of this journey. Did you think of giving up at any moment in your journey?

Writing, unlike what most people believe, is tough. The good part was when the words were flowing with ease. When I knew what happens next in the story or what the characters are going to say or do, those were the times when I was happy during the writing process. 

The difficulty came when I had to assimilate the research and present it in a story that would first be believable for me. Some of the avatars were difficult to even research and write. With others, so much material was available, that I was lost as to where to begin or end. 

I never thought of giving up. I had no misconceptions in mind that this would be an easy journey. I knew it would be challenging and I was at some level prepared for the bad phases too. So every time I hit a bump, I would simply push forward with more vigour.  

What 3 things would you suggest to the aspirants who wish to dive into writing a full-length novel?

I can’t focus on the importance of reading enough. So that has to be the first thing. 

Second, I feel people rush into publishing a novel too soon. I’d urge aspiring authors to give themselves the time to hone their writing skills first. Only when they are convinced about their final product should they approach a publisher. 

Third, I feel it is critical to have a support system of writers and authors who are at the same stage of their writing journeys as you. Writing can be extremely frustrating, especially when one has to face multiple rejections. At such times, fellow writers can help bring back the enthusiasm and lift one’s morale back up to ensure that you never quit. I once read somewhere that writing is a lonely journey, but writers never have to be. 

How difficult or easy was it for you to get your debut book published? Give a few tips that can be of use to budding writers.

I have been incredibly lucky with both my books. My first book happened because I wrote a short story that my editor, Rima Kar Ghosh, and my publisher, Dipankar Mukherjee liked so much that they instantly wanted me to write a short story collection. That story was Writer’s Circle and it is part of my first book, Just Another Day, an eBook published under Readomania Shots.

With Dashavatar (my first solo-authored book in print) too, the journey of publishing it was relatively easy. It was the writing that I struggled with more. 

For advice to new writers, I will simply repeat what best-selling author Stephen King says – Read a lot. Write a lot.

Do you ever face writer’s fatigue or inertia, which most people call writer’s block? How do you overcome that?

Had you asked me this two years ago, I would have proudly claimed that I have never faced writer’s block. But just before JAD happened, I had gone through three painful days of not writing a word. I think that must have been the first time I faced writer’s block. And they were very frustrating three days. Fortunately, what came out of that was what led to my first eBook. So, now I am not deterred by such blocks. 

I believe every low period is followed by a high. So even if I hit a slump, I just show up and write. That’s the only way to overcome it, I think.

What next after Dashavatar?

There are quite a few ideas that I am toying with but I’ve not zeroed in on anyone as the premise for the next book. I think for now I am just going to ride the wave of joy that comes with being a debut author. 

Piyusha Vir will be interacting with book-lovers at the World-Book-Fair 2020

WBF Author Meet

 

https://www.amazon.in/Dashavatar-Stories-Vishnu-Piyusha-Vir/dp/9385854860/

Karuna – A ‘special’ mother’s story

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Karuna had been up for hours that night, much before her morning alarm began ringing. The impending engagement of the day and the untold agony it entailed had kept her awake.

Karuna had a good mind to call up the authorities and say she wasn’t coming. Well, that wouldn’t be ethical. After all, she had a reputation to live up to! The IT woman, who had made in spite of all the odds, an inspirational divorcee, who had built up her work single-handedly! No, the role had to be played out!

Sighing deeply, Karuna quickly got ready, left instructions to the nanny and left without saying hello or bye to Ansh, her son.

Karuna had been invited as the chief guest at a medal ceremony of a famous school. She was to give a stirring speech, present the awards to the winning children and congratulate the parents while making adequate appreciative noises. Only she knew, how she hated that task.

Karuna managed to get through her speech with her trademark million-watt smile plastered across, after a warm welcome from the teachers. As the shining students started lining up for their medals and as the announcer waxed eloquent about their achievements, a stab of jealousy and anger shot through Karuna.

She felt like throwing the heavy cups and shields on the breathlessly proud parents who were filming every single rapturous moment. If only she could scream aloud at the unfairness of it all! Hiding her tears, Karuna quickly rushed through the ceremony, almost ran from the venue and hid in a nondescript cafe, quickly ordered a strong coffee and let her mind wander to her painful past.

Why couldn’t her Ansh be like these brilliant children? Intelligent, athletic, super smart or beautiful? Why did she have to be the chosen one for such untold punishment? It was incomprehensible that the breathtakingly beautiful and super smart she and her top grader husband Aman could conceive and birth Ansh.

Ansh was what they called nowadays, a special child. Pretty euphemistic, Karuna spat angrily. Initially, all had been good. Both the partners were earning well, investing in cars, a pad in an upscale part of the town, gold, stocks, in that order. And once into their thirties both decided to have a child. Ansh was conceived after much turmoil and multiple visits to the doctors. As an infant, he was doing ok, more or less keeping with the expected milestones. When Ansh turned two, Karuna began to comprehend something was amiss, something was wrong and Ansh wasn’t like others.

A visit to the doctor confirmed her worst fears. In her anger, she had rejected everything, shut herself away from the prying. But she couldn’t keep away from the loving boy.

Aman took the news very hard. He began to work harder and stayed away from home most of the time as if that would somehow obliterate the harsh truth. Whenever Aman entertained his colleagues, he would insist that Ansh be kept out of sight or put to sleep with the nanny overseeing. Out of sight was out of mind.

The stress, the pretenses began eating into Karuna’s psyche and it was a matter of time that Aman and Karuna separated bitterly. Truth be told, Aman did contribute generously monetary wise, but was that enough?

Karuna quit her job, started a home venture while looking after Ansh. The venture grew so did her knowledge about a special child’s needs. She refused to remarry because she felt if the own father couldn’t wholeheartedly accept his son, why would a stranger do so?

So the periodic bouts anger continued at the unfairness of it all, while she tackled life stoically, earning name and fame across the society.

But the scalding tears were shed in loneliness.

Presently Karuna paid up, confirmed with the nanny that Ansh was ok, roamed around the city, unwilling to go home yet, unwilling to face the home truths yet.

But eventually, she had to. Nanny opened the door and Karuna mechanically walked towards Ansh’s room. Ansh was dabbling with colors making bright pictures while having dinner.

As he saw her his eyes lit up, and he waved to her, beckoning her. As a listless Karuna sat next time, he tapped at his drawing and drawled, “Momma” and then offered a spoonful of his dinner. As the tears threatened to overflow, Karuna managed to gulp the food. Ansh then lay down in her lap.

As she stroked his hair, Karuna was stricken with shame.

How unadulterated was this love, untainted by societal goals or rules? She had this and she was rich. That was enough. What happened to the Karuna in her? Was it just restricted to her moniker?

Ansh was her extension, a part of her being and she would do everything to make sure, he had the best.

Agreed, every day was a struggle and the path ahead utterly lonely, but today was done and today’s lesson had been taught.

Love did heal wounds. For today!

Tomorrow? Who knew!

Shakuni & The Dice of Doom: Book 2 of the Mahabharata Series By Mallar Chatterjee

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Shakuni & The Dice of Doom: Book 2 of the Mahabharata Series by Mallar Chatterjee is a riveting rendition of the much-maligned Antagonist of Mahabharata, albeit with a delicious twist!
I have read so many versions and voices of Mahabharata but the twist attempted here leaves a powerful impact on the reader. Fine writing is all about looking at yet another unseen angle and retelling an oft-told tale with a beautiful and newer effect. Mallar is a fine writer by that barometer. Let me confess, initially, I was a bit disconcerted at the turn attempted but the author sews it up splendidly at the end. Language is marvelous and the pace never lags. Kudos Mallar for making the well-known epic come across as a new tale. Looking forward to more such stellar stuff from your pen.

Mallar Chatterjee answered a few questions posed by AkkaAcerbic

1)What made you choose a mythological/ epic thriller as your first and second offering? Why did you choose Shakuni after Yuddhishtra and not Bhima?

 Actually, I didn’t have to “choose” mythology. Rather, my avid interest in mythology brought out the writer in me. Perhaps I felt an urge to express my own realizations through a kind of customized rendition. I chose Shakuni after Yudhisthira mainly because of the contrast. Another reason was that I was looking for a subject that can give me some liberty to work my imagination.

2) What makes a good rendition of a well-known epic? What are the aspects one must take care of while penning one? Using ‘Shakuni’ can you elucidate further?

Just like it is difficult to explain what makes good literature, it is not easy to explain a good rendition. I think a rendition of a mythological piece can be of two types – (a) diligently following the linear narrative laced with author’s own realisation or philosophisation (example: “Jaya” by Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik) and (b) penning a fictional story based on the epic developing certain hints, indications or exploring untold possibilities (ex: “Palace of Illusion” by Chitra Divakaruni or Amish books). Both kinds can make successful renditions considering the literary standards they achieve. I personally feel that a good rendition should stop fractionally short of offering a distinct judgment in spite of making its innate tilt understood. We must keep it in mind that even the epics leave enough ambivalence that keeps them so much intellectually pertinent even now. A rendition must preserve that ambivalence in a subtle manner. “Shakuni” falls in the second category, I think (“Yudhisthira” in the first). Although I took some creative liberty in “Shakuni” to create the desired atmosphere, I think I did not let myself be judgemental.  

3) How does one maintain the taut pace that requires the novel to be a thrilling page-turner? What are the beginner pitfalls one must avoid while penning? 

I can share my own experience to address this point. I have learnt one thing. Writer’s thoughts and his words must be like twins separated at birth. What I mean to say is that the thought and the expression thereof are like two closely linked, yet different personalities. They must be compatible with each other but must be allowed to establish themselves according to their own personalities. In my first book, I tried to transmit my thought as it is in my writing creating some chaos at times. At the same time, my first book was more honest than my second as it amply represented the mind of the author. 

4) How important are the setting and characterization? Should they be noble, distorted or just grey? How many strong characters should the novel have to balance the yin and yang? How have you achieved the same in ‘Shakuni’?

In a period novel, the setting is extremely important. The author has to care about creating visuals. Both my books have an implicit assumption that humans are not binary characters, nor are they even consistent throughout. Their actions need to be viewed from their perspective and a universal moral conclusion may not be necessary. In “Shakuni“, I was dealing with multiple characters – all of them having their own specialties. I created two rival groups out of them following the established storyline and then tried to make some characters appear pseudo-partisan or pseudo-neutral using some imagination, thus trying to preserve the ambivalence.

5) What is the relevance of language for writing in this Insta-era? Is it necessary to be verbose or would ‘being-terse’ work better? 

Language, I believe, is like a boat that carries the plot and the theme through the mind and sensibility of readers. It is the language, more than anything else that determines the literary merit of the writing. In my first book, I inadvertently became verbose to create a phonetic effect. I believe today that language should be idiomatically valid, syntactically uncomplicated and thematically succinct. Based on these three tenets, a writer can lend further virtues to the writing depending on his or her natural flair. Personally, I am a great admirer of the style Ms. Chitra Divakaruni used in “Palace of Illusions” that at times borders on the poetic.

6) How essential are hooks? How should an ideal epic thriller end? Tantalizingly open-ended or all ends neatly sewn up? Were you worried about the twist that you have incorporated in Shakuni? How has the response been?

Hooks are important for a particular kind of rendition but it may not be overused. In case of a myth-based thriller, such devices are almost necessary to take the reader by surprise. But in case of a linear subjective retelling, there is limited scope for such devices. Whether the ending should be properly sewed up or left hanging a cliff depends entirely on the treatment of the story and the actual motive of the author. I was – and still am – quite worried about the experimentation I did in “Shakuni“. However, the response that I have received until now has been quite positive.

7) How imperative is reading your peers to fine-tune your craft?

It is very important to read peers unless one is completely confident that he or she is going to do something unprecedented or path-breaking. My personal feeling is that an author should remain a student all along and learn uninhibitedly from the peers who are not rivals but co-passengers on a fascinating journey. 

8) Would you attempt writing in any other genre? If yes please specify. Who are your favorite writers and why?

I am not yet sure if I shall write in any other genre. Time will tell. My favourite authors, across genres, are Sukumar Ray, Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, Rajsekhar Basu, Satyajit Ray, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Dr. Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri, Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, Amish – to name a few.

9) What advice would you give a budding writer?

Not exactly an advice but one suggestion I can give from my very little experience. An aspiring writer should be sure about three things before starting to write. These are why to write, what to write and how to write – though not necessarily in that order. For me, the most important of these is why to write. Once one becomes sure of it, others may be sorted out on their own.

 

Shakuni & The Dice of Doom: Book 2 of the Mahabharata Series By Mallar Chatterjee has been received very well and is available in bookshops across India and on Amazon

https://www.amazon.in/Shakuni-Dice-Doom-Book-Mahabharata/dp/9385854798/

A mum’s tale

Shantanu was sitting at his usual spot, at the head of the table and I was at my usual spot, near the wall, at the alcove, to his left.
He was all worked up, my Shantanu. I wanted to ruffle his hair and say life would be ok. But I decided against it. He was already late for work you see. He wanted to reach before his team came in. Soon the monstrous morning traffic would consume every available space on the roads and my Shantanu hated traffic. It gave him the headaches, he said.
Shantanu folded the papers and drummed his fingers impatiently on the table. He was hungry. I knew he would be served those bland oats and some fancy fruits whereas Shantanu loved my tangy vegetables and Rotis.
I sighed.
Just then Noyinka walked in from her morning Yoga classes, bellowed for breakfast to the person battling in the kitchen.
“Bhaiyya has to leave, Jhumki!”. Noyinka then plonked herself next to Shantanu and chatted non-stop about the world around, without waiting for him to reply. Poor boy! It has been a Noyinka centric world ever since he married her against my wishes and brought her home.
Oh, I haven’t introduced myself have I? I’m Amma, Shantanu’s mother. Noyinka and I have had a frosty relationship at the best. She tried and I tried too. But somehow it didn’t work out and eventually, we decided to ignore each other while Shantanu fretted and fumed. Fed up he, chose work over us. On hindsight, it turned out a good decision.
Anyways, coming back to the present, I watched Shantanu push that bland fare down his throat, kiss his wife on her forehead and rush out. He didn’t even look at my direction. I sighed again, silently followed him, settled in the passenger seat quickly before the driver revved up the engine. Shantanu hated car-conversations. He checked his mail while the driver cursed, cussed and honked and I sat quietly watching the daily drama. Shantanu got down at his office, told the driver to come back later in the evening after carting Noyinka around and walked inside briskly without saying a word or bidding me goodbye.
I exhaled deeply again. Well, I knew it would happen.
I came back all tired and settled near the alcove.
The blessed maid, knowing fully well that Noyinka wouldn’t be back for some time, was sprawled in front of the telly, thoroughly enjoying some regressive Saas-Bahu serials. How unrealistic and far removed from real-life these soaps are I tell you, two women fighting for control of the house or over a man! Just imagine!
With nothing much to do, I settled next to her, watching those numbing serials in a loop.
After some time Noyinka called Jhumki with a fresh set of dinner instructions. Cursing, Jhumki got up reluctantly, switched off the Telly, without even asking me and got to work.
I decided against letting Jhumki know how I felt, quietly settled by the alcove and waited for the evening to fall.
It was almost 9 pm by the time Noyinka and my Shantanu returned. I beamed the moment I saw him. He briefly looked at me and asked for dinner. Jhumki brought out some unpalatable fare. Shantanu looked exhausted, he sniffed at the food, barely nibbled at any. Noyinka didn’t seem to sense any of this. I sat next to son, wanting to soothe him. But then, suffering is personal, isn’t it? I sat by him without a word.
Dinner done, husband and wife retired to their room. I wanted to follow them there too but then there are some boundaries right?
So I settled in at the alcove for the night.
In my photo-frame, on the photo-stand, which is gathering dust by the second.
This stupid Jhumki doesn’t clean the alcove and my son whom I love so much, so much that, I still stick around, doesn’t change the faded garlands adorning my photo often.
What can I expect from Noyinka anyways? Her happy period began when she became the queen of this abode of mine when I popped off suddenly five years ago.
Maybe I will spook that lazy Jhumki tonight.
Just for fun and bide my time till my Shantanu wakes up!

When Tanushree Podder Decodes Complex Plots

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Tanushree Podder calls herself a non-technical writer who goes by her instinct and writes about any topic that catches her fancy.  She writes across genres.

Tanushree ma’am says that across genres there are some commonalities  like setting, characters, plots, conflicts,  and their resolution

For a gripping thriller, plots have to be racy. A thriller has to be an adrenaline-inducing experience so that the novel is a page-turner. To achieve this,  the writer needs to scatter some red herrings, twists and turns across the plot line and also leave some hooks at the end of each chapter so that the reader is invested enough with the next chapter too.

The characters have to be strong and enigmatic while the writing has to be a little mysterious. Complex plots can have subplots which can further be developed into stand-alone tales. Complex plots have multiple characters in multiple events across multiple locations. The simple plot is akin to a cloth with a single pattern whereas a complex plot is a multi-colored, multi-patterned cloth, woven masterfully. To create this successfully, it needs great skill. King, Follet, Grisham, and Brown are some of the masters.

A budding writer needs to read at least 100 books before penning one. Research is paramount. A budding author should have a thick skin and keep the nose to the ground, to smell out a good tale because there are stories happening all around us. Among her contemporaries, she likes to read Amitava Ghosh, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Arundhati Roy, Manu Joseph. She hopes to write many many more novels.

Amen to that

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When Ayan Pal Talks About The Difference Between Search And Research

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, Session 6 will be with Ayan Pal on 21 May 2019, author of ‘Confessions On An Island’.

The difference between search and research

By Ayan Pal

I began my tryst with research during Engineering, not for any academic purpose, but to fuel my passion for writing instead. I was working on a historical crime fantasy set in pre-Independence India and the UK and needed to get my facts right, no matter what.

My primary source of inspiration was my prized possession – The World Book Encyclopaedia, a gift from my mom. However, the golden gilded copies could not help me complete my tour de force. In fact, it was an utter failure. I was simply searching for whatever I could find out and trying to fit them into the plot thus making it lose its level of thrill.

Thus, despite have a rock-solid story, and dollops of imagination, a lack of ‘proper’ research made my writing cumbersome and unpalatable. In short, even the ‘world’ was not enough! Having learned my lesson the hard way, I used any and every opportunity thereafter to understand how research can help one elevate one’s writing and make it more thrilling, irrespective of whether it’s a novel, short story, speech, or even a post on Facebook!

Let me begin with an exercise to try and try to use a plot point through Potassium cyanide – a poison most of you would be familiar with for its many references across crime fiction.

Option 1: It was the 24-year-old Ponnuthurai Sivakumaran from Sri Lanka whose paved the path to avoid interrogation if captured for Tamil Tigers. His act of defiance was simple – swallow cyanide hidden within the uniform as a capsule. As he stumbled upon the ground, his mouth frothing, and beginning a slow painful death, a new militant hero was born.

Debrief 1: The above option is an example of using half-baked research by scrounging through undependable sources like Wikipedia. Even though there is documented evidence about the said militant having committed suicide, his exact age and the details of where the capsule was hidden is clearly a figment of the author’s imagination. The last sentence is an absolute flight of fantasy that is more of an ill-construed opinion not based on facts. For starters, cyanide causes almost instant death, thus making the sentence unrealistic as well as incorrect.

Option 2: An Indian man MP Prasad, a goldsmith, who committed suicide left a hastily scrawled note describing the taste of the fatal toxin, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported on Saturday. “Doctors, potassium cyanide. I have tasted it. It burns the tongue and tastes acrid,” he wrote, according to the paper.

Debrief 2: I have just two words to say here – dull and boring. No attempt has been made here of using a fact to elevate the writing in any which way. While this is an example of great research, where the source is also quoted, is it necessary? Would it have been better maybe had it been done in a subtler way, say an Indian character reading the Sunday Morning Herald in Australia suddenly exclaiming to his wife about the taste of cyanide, causing her to immediately stiffen and get an idea that could change their lives forever?

While the above two pieces of writing, though flawed can actually be appreciated for conducting some sort of research, let’s look at an example that became a social-media sensation for its thrilling tone and seemingly factualness.

Option 3: There was a very recent murder case in Australia where an Indian woman killed her husband by giving him crushed Apple seeds. She & her lover have been convicted and sentenced for 22 years & 25 years in prison. I never knew till now that apple seeds contain Cyanide. I searched for the info & was surprised to find that apple seeds do contain Cyanide. This is also one reason why insects hardly hit an apple crop. They know instinctively maybe. Please ensure that the seeds are removed before eating apples. Especially children should not be given a whole apple. Instead cut, remove the seeds before giving it to them. You can google for the veracity of my observation if you have doubts. And do spread the message around to as many people as you can.

Debrief 3: This post is based on an actual case of cyanide poisoning in Melbourne, Australia where Sofia Samand murdered her husband Sam Abraham along with her former lover Arun Kamalasanan. On 21st of June 2018, the Supreme Court jailed Kamalasanan for 27 years and Sam for 22 years. Shocking, isn’t it? But not entirely true. You see, the actual incident had the woman giving her husband orange juice laced with cyanide. However, this half-truth looks almost believable with Google likely to throw up numerous results about the fact that apple seeds do contain poison. Imagine writing a book or delivering a speech to be recorded for posterity (say a TED Talk) based on fake news. What would that make people think about you?

The need to impregnate a sense of expertise and authority in the reader’s and/or listener’s mind through the use of factual data is a must, provided you vary of sources of data and actually speak with experts if you cannot experience it yourself to ensure you get the facts right no matter what.

In my novel ‘Confessions on an Island’, I have used vivid descriptions as well as dialogs to share a whirlpool of facts that not just help you understand the settings better, but also present clues that you will be able to relate with when the denouement presents itself. It being a psychological thriller, and with me being an Engineer and not doctor, I decided against doctoring the reactions of the characters and/or basing them on what I was most likely to do.

They were instead based by researching about patients who have faced similar mental issues, interacting with people with disorders like Bipolar, and actually feeling some of the many things that the characters faced. There were research and facts, there were various sources, but they were also used in sporadic amounts to ensure the content never overwhelms the countenance.

In my opinion, research is like the thread that holds the pearls of any story together, one that stays in the background and lets the real assets – the story, characters, plot, and twists shine. It is a foundation upon which the greatest of stories can be built. The moment it tries to become a pearl in itself and stand alone as a tour de force, you will end up losing the sheen in your writing, causing the carefully collected pearls to needlessly scatter.

The next time you try and pursue writing your next story, speech, or even that social media post, may the force of research be with you. Amen!

Book-CoaI

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When Archana Sarat Deconstructs Writing About A Criminal Mind

, Session 5 with Archana Sarat, author of Birds Of Prey and Tit for Tat.

Getting Into a Criminal’s Mind

By Archana Sarat

There are two pillars of a crime novel – A hero, who fights the crime and a criminal who commits the crime in spite of the odds around.

Why should a writer get into a criminal’s mind? 

It is imperative for a writer to do so to get better writing and reading experience. The writer should examine closely the reasons for a criminal to commit a crime because usually, a harsh punishment doesn’t deter a criminal.

How does crime happen?

Though there are multiple reasons, broadly there are three.

  1. The Crimes due to Poverty.  The divide between the rich and the poor is a compelling factor but most often a criminal is known to explain away his stance without any remorse.
  2. The Crimes due to Addiction like Alcohol or drugs
  3. The Crimes due to Passion. Could be psychological issues like neglect during childhood, lack of love or anger issues.

 

Archana also adds that characterization is very important.  Fleshing out a 3-dimensional character who doesn’t disclose his/her true motives and extensions, is a difficult task as a criminal has many shades.  The other challenge is to buildup the criminal and simultaneously get the hero to deconstruct.

  • Research deep into the crime.
  • Analyze the criminal’s mind.
  • A writer should be careful not to give away all the clues at once.
  • Hence multiple drafts are needed to get that added punch. All this hard work will determine how well the novel will get crafted ultimately.

Archana, the author of ‘Birds of Prey‘ was drawn to crime-fiction as she was compelled to talk about child-sexual-abuse. Crime-Thrillers can be used as instruments of change if they can make even one person rethink. If the cause of the crime can be identified and that cause can be done away with, there could be lesser distress.

Archana is in the process of penning another crime-thriller. (Grey Rocks)

As she confesses, writing about a villain or about crimes of passion is more challenging.

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